Don't let me be misunderstood Kanser rapper Zach "New MC" Combs and I just can't understand each other.
Questions and answers need to be repeated several times. When I ask whether Kanser, a Minneapolis duo, follow their Midwest rapper brethren in taking socio-political stances in their rhymes, New MC tells me about a recent show, in which they were performing a song about the war in Iraq.
"It just felt like listen, are you psycho?" he asks.
"Well, there's certainly a faction of that here, but probably not the kids who will come to your show," I say.
"Huh? I asked whether you guys recycle."
New MC goes on to explain that preaching in songs seems like recycling: It's a great idea, but sometimes you just don't feel like your individual effort changes anything. "You want to think that you're making a difference, but the machine you're going against is enormous," he says.
New MC and partner Unicus trade rapping duties, and their interplay onstage has made them a popular live act. Their self-titled CD includes plenty of head-bobbing beats, like the low-key "Peaces of the Puzzle" and "Silent Treatment." "Hear What I Say" is fun and full of braggadocio, set to a great backbeat and soul samples.
It's when "Look Love" comes around that the Midwestern-rap stereotype gives way. Delivered as a "Girl, you're a dirty ho" letter, the song, with lyrics telling the girl to "swallow my kids," comes off as confusingly misogynistic.
"It's about a girl, I guess. I don't have a cool, smart answer," New MC says. "Look, have you ever had a boy who made you angry?"
"Well, yeah," I say.
"Then it speaks for itself."
Except, not really.
-- Kara Luger
Support Broke Rappers Tour featuring Kanser, Unknown Prophets, Ancient Mith, Lucash, Sloppy Joe and Archetypes
The Black Sheep, 2106 E. Platte Ave.
Thursday, Jan. 26, 9 p.m.
Tickets: $8; check ticketweb.com or call 227-7625 for more.